Separated from family, unsure whether to stay here or not
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Ricardo came to the United States 10 years ago on a tourist visa and decided to stay. He eventually got married and now has two young children. Six months ago his wife and kids went to Mexico to visit family. When they tried to reenter the United States, his wife was denied because of problems with her visa. Here Ricardo talks about the separation from his family.
Gallacher: Your family is in Mexico and you are trying to decide whether life in the United States is worth the struggle?
Ricardo: My wife has been in Mexico for five months now. I didn’t imagine what it would be like without my family. I miss them a lot. My kids were born here so they can come back any time, but living here with the economy the way it is now is very hard. That is one of the problems we face if we stay here.
In some ways it would be easier to go back to Mexico and stay with them because staying here and trying to find a job has been very difficult. Right now I am breaking apart. I am feeling like a part of me is missing. Since my wife and kids left this country my life has been changed in every way.
I can’t sleep. I am always thinking about them. Sometimes it is two or three in the morning and I am still awake thinking about them. When I talk about this with some of my friends they say to me, “Your wife and kids are in Mexico, you have to live your life. You have the freedom to do more things. You can meet other women.”
And I say, “I don’t do that. That is not me.” I call every day to Mexico and see how they are doing. I just talk to them for a few minutes, no more than that. They are very young and they don’t know about life.
I talk to them and tell them that I miss them and that I want to be with them. I tell them that they are going to be here soon or I am going to be there soon and we are going to play. All these five months I miss teaching them and holding them. I miss waking up with them in the mornings. I miss changing their diapers. Simple things.
Gallacher: Help me and others understand why living here in fear of being discovered is better than going back to Mexico.
Ricardo: My kids were born in the United States, and my wife feels that they will be safer growing up here. There are more opportunities for them here. The safety of the family comes before everything else, and my wife and I feel our kids are safer here.
In Mexico it is completely different. We are always fearful that something might happen to them.
The place where they are living right now is very small. It is three hours from any city. They are in a village with no streets. It is very dry and dusty. There is one store and it is very, very small. You can buy a pound of bananas and a bag of beans but very little else. It is not at all like here where you can go to City Market and pick up whatever you want.
We don’t have a car in Mexico, so when they have to go to the next town they have to think and plan a few days in advance. The bus comes by twice a day. It is hard for my wife traveling with the kids because the oldest one is 3 and the youngest one is 2.
My wife tells me that it is better that I stay here and look for a job. She tells me that she will be here soon, but it is hard. We don’t have money, and I can’t find a job.
Gallacher: So right now you don’t know whether you are going to stay or leave?
Ricardo: Yes. I know that living in Mexico is harder than living here in the States. I know that if I go back to Mexico I will be making about five hundred dollars a month. I fear that it will be hard on my family to make it on that much money after living here for 10 years.
During the 10 years I have been here I have established many friendships. I think I can find a job here but I don’t know. I think it is better to stay here for a while longer in case I do find a job. I am waiting. It is hard.
Gallacher: What would you do if you went back to Mexico?
Ricardo: I would probably sell food. People have to eat. I would sell tacos or hamburgers and hot dogs on the street corner, something like that. That would probably be the first thing in order to get money. I am an architect, but I don’t think when I go back to Mexico that the doors will just open for me.
Immigrant Stories appears every Monday in the Post Independent.
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